I grew up in a house full of books and readers on an 85 acre farm in Ohio. Surrounded by old-order Amish, focused farmers, and a 5,000 acre swamp, our farm was a peaceful, lush, green bowl of quiet…perfect for reading. Of course, it was a farm, so we spent a ridiculous amount of time working, but when we weren’t working, we were reading. My father was adamantly again television, so we never had one in the house. But, we found our stories in words. My mom loved the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen while my father insisted we read Hemingway, Faulkner, and Mark Twain. In between, I found plenty of time for Louis L’Amour, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew. I really believe that books are a wonderful way to learn.
I still read all the time and so do my children (see picture of one of our bookshelves above). But, now I think there is also a place for videos and movies. There is something magical about snuggling up on the couch and diving into a visual world that brings alive the abstract and distant past. Our History Boxes are based on literature, but there we do think that videos provide context and are great as a preview or a review of learning.
For older kids, we like the AP History Study Guide. The videos are short but comprehensive. You can find them here: https://ap.gilderlehrman.org/
For all ages, we love the videos available at Have Fun with History. You can search by topic or time period and learn more about themes and ideas that are confusing or that you just want to know more about. You can find them here: http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/HistorySubjects/index.html
And, of course, there are movies. We love the American Girl Doll movies for showing time periods in history, the Liberty Kids movies are great for learning about colonialism, and The States teaches a bit about our country. Some of our favorite movies include:
Ruby Bridges – segregation in America
This is America Charlie Brown – a fun survey of history
American Legends – great for learning about famous stories in our past.
Johnny Tremain – about the American Revolution.
Night at the Museum – this trilogy introduces kids to historical figures.
If you have any additional suggestions, please send us a message and we will add the to the list!